Rick spent a few days in Northern Utah attending meetings. He came home last night and we were all so excited to see him. It is amazing how empty our home feels when he isn't here.
While up north, he took some time to visit family, my parents and his brother and family. When he returned home, he came bearing gifts. Corn, tomatoes and onions from my dad; Relief Society and Craft manuals from my mother; and hearts from his nephew Richie.
|Rick wrote everyone's name on the hearts as Richie gave them to him.|
|This is my favorite. Rick told me Richie said "It's for your girlfriend, Uncle Rick."|
Richie's story is a story of miracles. He was born at 24 weeks gestation. At the time, it was unknown if he would survive or not. I remember the first time I saw him in the NICU. He was so tiny, no bigger than his father's hand. His weight was not measured in pounds, but in ounces and grams. His skin was so translucent, he appeared as a diagram of blood vessels. His eyes were still fused closed. He did not cry and he hardly moved. I remembered when Hunter was born and in the NICU and the tubes and monitors that ran from his body. Those were nothing compared to what I saw in that isolette, compared to the tangle of wires and tubes attached to this small body.
It was almost five months before Richie was able to leave the hospital. This was long past his due date if he had been full term. By the time he left the hospital, he had reached the lifetime maximum of benefits allowed by health insurance companies, virtually making him uninsurable for the rest of his life.
Richie's life has not been easy. Each new task has been delayed and a struggle to learn. Even now he continues to face daily challenges. Yet there is about him a spirit of joy and unconditional love. On a recent trip to Ogden, he was so excited that we were visiting the Air Museum at Hill Air Force Base. He had to show me all the planes he had acquired at the recent air show. He even offered to let me some of his beloved planes while we went to the museum.
Over the summer, Richie was able to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most children are baptized at the age of 8, which is considered the age of accountability or the age when a child can truly begin to understand right from wrong and accept responsibility for their own choices and can understand the power and sacredness of the covenant they are entering into with God by being baptized. Because of Richie's special circumstances, he was not baptized as most children at that age, but had to wait until he could show that he had the necessary understanding of the promises he would make at baptism. All during the month leading up to his baptismal date, he remind us that it was coming and ask for our reassurance that we would be there.
On the day of his baptism, Richie greeted us at the door to the church. "I am so excited!" he said over and over. When the time came for the ordinance, he literally ran to the baptismal font. What a happy day for his family!!!
I know Richie will continue to struggle with the daily trappings of life. The road before him is not going to be an easy one. I also know that his spirit is strong. The light of love that shines from him will bless many. He radiates joy and love. It is impossible to be with him and not feel God's love for all his children.
|Brittney in the middle holding Richie, Summer 2002. |
He is about 6 months old here, but only about a month
out of the hospital.
|Christmas 2002 at Grandma Wixom's house. She is holding Ben in the red suit and Richie.|
Ben is one month younger than Richie.
|Wil and Richie celebrating their birthday which are one week apart. |
There was a time we wondered if we would ever see this day.
|Richie on his baptismal day with Emily, Lela and his sister Faith, July 2012.|
He is so excited, the chair can barely hold him.